Brown: The clouds finally lift from Iowa's QB tempest

Rick Brown

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Casey Beathard is a country and western song writer by trade. And it feels like Iowa's "Great Quarterback Debate" carries all the material required of a No. 1 hit.

"He could write a song about anything," said C.J. Beathard, Casey's son. "So I'm sure he could do it."

On Wednesday, C.J. faced the media for the first time as Iowa's No. 1 quarterback. And Jake Rudock, the odd man out, is headed to Michigan for the final season of his career.

The Beathard-Rudock storyline has been a cloud hanging over the Iowa football program since August. On Wednesday, those clouds gave way to blue skies and — dare I say — optimism for the season ahead.

"I'm not sure about everyone else, but it feels that way to me," Beathard said.

Beathard's nickname is "Sunshine," which matched his sunny disposition Wednesday. It also matched the bounce in the junior-to-be's step as he visited with reporters for the first time since late last season.

He was, in a word, energized.

"Yes, I'm excited,"Beathard said. "Spring ball has started well so far. Hopefully we can keep it going. I'm excited for the season to come."

Things have been partly cloudy for much of Beathard's career. Rudock started all 13 games in 2013. On the eve of the 2014 season, Ferentz told us that both quarterbacks would both see time on the field. But the snaps leaned heavily in Rudock's favor.

All season, Ferentz seemed to be walking a tightrope when asked about his quarterbacks. Ask him a question about Rudock, he'd also mention Beathard. Ask him a question about Beathard, he'd also mention Rudock.

Ferentz also said, on more than one occasion, that Rudock was clearly No. 1. And Beathard sat back, swallowed his pride and took another dose of patience.

"It's been a roller-coaster ride, that's for sure," Beathard said. "That's when your faith comes in. You've just got to keep your faith in God, your teammates, your coaches. God has a plan for everything. That's what I kept in mind."

Beathard didn't even play in Iowa's final two regular-season games, against Wisconsin and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium. But things changed in preparation for the TaxSlayer Bowl against Tennesesee. Both quarterbacks were told they'd play. Both did.

It was a forgettable team effort, a 45-28 loss. But Beathard, who got most of the snaps that day, did win something.

Ferentz called him shortly after the game and said the No. 1 job was his.

Rudock, it needs to be said, didn't deserve the black hat he wore last season when Beathard became the fan favorite. Rudock is a first-class young man in every way. He, like Ferentz, takes a CEO approach to life.

Beathard is more of a free spirit, a young man eager for the opportunity to show us what he's got. He has a big arm, reckless abandon and running ability.

"I'm more confident in myself because I'm the guy now," Beathard said. "I'm getting more reps, seeing more stuff. I'm going against the No. 1 defense. I feel like it's making me a better quarterback, too."

Beathard said he and Rudock had a good relationship. But there was also that hint of competitive conflict.

"Sometimes here and there it was a little awkward," Beathard said. "Nothing crazy."

That tension is gone now, replaced by a young man who had a chance to show the world that Ferentz made the right choice.

"Now I'm the guy," Beathard said. "We'll see where it goes."

Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.